Middle Eastern leaders who’ve become friendly with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) could face severe retribution from their local populations if WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is killed or jailed for a lengthy amount of time.
That’s because, in a recent interview with Arabic news network Al Jazeera, Assange allegedly warned that he had a document which reveals the identities of officials who voluntarily cultivated relationships with the CIA.
“These officials are spies for the US in their countries,” he reportedly told the network.
“If I am killed or detained for a long time, there are 2,000 websites ready to publish the remaining files,” Assange was quoted as having said. “We have protected these websites through very safe passwords.”
He reportedly added that the files also reveal the locations of facilities where US prisoners are sent to be interrogated and tortured.
“If I am forced we could go to the extreme and expose each and every file that we have access to,” he allegedly said.
Assange allegedly showed the interviewer the file he was speaking of, but no names were stated publicly. The interview reportedly aired last night.
Video of the conversation — part two of an earlier talk with Al Jazeera interviewer Ahmed Mansour — was not available online Thursday morning and The Peninsula appeared to be the source offering most detail about the conversation.
A request for comment or confirmation, sent to Al Jazeera’s press office in Qatar, went unanswered at time of publication.
It’s not the first time Assange has threatened to release a potentially devastating cache of information onto the Internet.
“Due to recent attacks on our infrastructure, we’ve decided to make sure everyone can reach our content. As part of this process we’re releasing archived copy of all files we ever released,” WikiLeaks said in a message posted to its website earlier this month.
WikiLeaks took the precaution of posting a 1.4-gigabyte file on peer-to-peer networks, encrypted with a 256-digit key said to be unbreakable. Titled “insurance.aes256,” the file was big enough to contain all the US cables said to be in WikiLeaks’s possession, but there’s no word on what it may actually contain.
The encryption makes it unreadable until passwords are supplied — at which time all its contents, or just portions depending on which password is used, would become available to those who downloaded it.
“It’s a ticking time bomb with a remote fuse,” one expert told NBC News. “So this bomb can go off the second that they release the key and the key will spread around the internet in a matter of seconds.”
Appearing on the BBC in early December, Assange’s lawyer defended the move.
“They need to protect themselves,” Mark Stephens said. “This is what they believe to be a thermo-nuclear device effectively in the electronic age.”
With prior reporting by David Edwards.